La Serna Gets Another Shot at Title

Gio Long is all smiles after scoring three touchdowns to lead La Serna back to the Southeast Finals

(Whittier)- La Serna outscored West Covina 35-3 after falling behind early by two touchdowns and went to to beat the Bulldogs 35-17 Friday night at Whittier District Field to advance to the Southeast Finals.

Gio Long scored three touchdowns and Luke Gonzales added the other two to lead the Lancers to the big win. Gonzales rushed for 91 yards on nine carries including touchdown runs of 13 and 50 yards. Long was the man for La Serna in the red zone. His three touchdown runs came from one, four and two yards out.

The game started out reminiscent of last year’s 84-21 West Covina rout of La Serna in the Southeast Finals. The Bulldogs scored twice in just over two minutes to close out the first quarter take a 14-0 advantage. They also missed scoring early in the first when they were stopped three times inside the ten which would have given them a 7-0 lead.

After missing that opportunity the Bulldogs cashed in on their next. Henry Tarin threw a pass to Antonio “Noodles” Hull who in turn fired a strike to a wide open Jesus Wong who raced 52 yards for the score.

La Serna was forced to punt on its next possession and WestCo made another big play. Sidney Jones fielded it, broke a tackle and was off to the races 83 yards for the touchdown with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. Just like that it was 14-0 West Covnia. Unfortunately for the Bulldog faithful, it was the last time West Covina saw the end zone.

The Lancers put together two long drives on their next two possessions to get even.  First they pieced together a seven play, 60-yard march that culminated with a 13 yard run by Gonzales. On their next series Frankie Palmer went to work. He ran for 19 yards and later hit John MacFarland for 20 yards down to the one. Long capped it with a one yard plunge to knot it at 14.

Evan Hertenstein booted a 32 yard field goal as the first half clock ran out to give West Covina a 17-14 lead at the break. It was the last time the Bulldogs scored.

The momentum turned quickly in the third quarter. After kicking off to West Covina, the Lancer defense forced an Aaron Salgado fumble at the Bulldog 11. Two plays later Long trucked into the endzone to give La Serna its first lead.

West Covina went three and out and the Lancers wasted no time in striking again. After a 16 yard pass play from Palmer to D’andre Sanchez, Gonzales escaped a couple of tackles and rumbled 50 yards for a touchdown. Three minutes into the quarter and it was 28-17 La Serna.

The Lancer defense shut down West Covina the rest of the way. The Bulldogs punted twice, fumbled and were stopped twice on fourth down in the second half. The Lancers ate up the clock and put together another extended march in the third quarter. Palmer led La Serna on an 80-yard, 16 play drive that ultimately put the game away. Long punched it in again- this time on a two-yard run to put La Serna up 35-17 with 7:37 left and on the road back to the championship game.

Palmer rushed for 57 yards and threw for 89 yards without a turnover.

Hull ran for 81 yards and 15 carries and threw for 58 and a score for West Covina.

“If you’ve been around our guys the last two or three years, you know our guys never quit,” said La Serna Coach Margarito Beltran of the Lancers falling behind by 14.

“They’re a very good football team. They’re physical and I thought their defense did a good job, “said West Covina Coach Mike Maggiore of La Serna.”They’re a very solid football team. But I’m proud of our guys. Their backs were to the wall the last four weeks and they can hold their heads high.”

La Serna will face Downey next week for the Southeast Title. The Vikings routed Santa Fe 35-3 to earn the trip. West Covina’s two year championship reign ends as the Bulldogs now look towards 2013.

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